Animal Beliefs and Their Contents

Author: Dreckmann, F.

Source: Erkenntnis, Volume 51, Number 1, 1999 , pp. 597-615(19)

Publisher: Springer

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Abstract:

This paper investigates whether, or not, the behavior of animals without speech can manifest beliefs and desires. Criteria for the attribution of such beliefs and desires are worked out with reference to Jonathan Bennett's theory of cognitive teleology: A particular ability for learning justifies attributing such beliefs and desires. The conceptual analysis is illustrated by examinations of cognitive ethology and considers higher-order intentionality. It is argued that the behavioral evidence only supports the attribution of first order beliefs and that languageless animals therefore could not possess higher-order intentionality. They are only capable of forming simple, i.e., first-order beliefs about their environment.

Document Type: Regular Paper

Affiliations: Von Weiss Str. 4 53639 Königswinter Germany

Publication date: January 1, 1999

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